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The First Amendment and Lunacy

by | Mar 3, 2018 | First Amendment

If you’re multi-tasking, click here for an audio version:

The shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, was an example of pure evil. Cruz is a depraved individual who was determined to ruin other people’s lives. Unfortunately, these types of events will bring forth people who seek to be a copycat. Some individuals may attempt to conduct an assault. Others will support the murderer. We should respect their right to free speech but also take them seriously.

Since 2012, there have been at least 16 million people in the United States who have been documented to have at least one major depressive episode. Records show us 13 percent of Americans are on anti-depression medication. Studies have shown that anti-depression medicines can cause suicidal thoughts and aggressive behavior. Cruz was depressed and took prescription drugs. Mental illness and the medication may have caused his explosion, but that does not relieve him of any responsibility.

Dangerous Professor

Recently, an ex-adjunct professor at Carroll University, Timothy Hoeller, was arrested for disorderly conduct. He was hired in January of 2017 and fired in April of the same year. Hoeller was in continuous contact with the university, demanding his job back or a positive letter of reference. The school would not give him either.

A law firm notified the Milwaukee Police Department after Hoeller called the law firm and said “Now I know why the Florida guy did what he did. He is my hero.” The police notified Carroll University. They filed paperwork to have Hoeller placed on trespass notice. Investigators spoke with Hoeller. During the phone call, he said: “when schools back mentally ill people into a corner and don’t accommodate them, people get killed.” However, Hoeller never made any direct threats to the school.

Free Speech?

What Hoeller did was inappropriate, immoral, ill-hearted, selfish, and completely unnecessary. People across the country are terrified right now. Who can blame them? However, was Hoeller protected by the First Amendment for saying the Florida shooter was his hero?

The school said the issues between them and Hoeller was an “escalating situation.” How long were they going to let this situation go before contacting the police? Hoeller was arrested ten months after the conflict began. The school’s delay raises the question of whether his consistent badgering was that important to the school. Carroll University said the safety of the students and employees is of utmost importance. But is it? If so, action would have already been taken in the form of reporting to the police harassment or unlawful telephone communications complaints.

The officers have a tough job to do, and we only have a news report right now, but the line of free speech and the disorderly conduct law is thin in this case. Hoeller said Cruz was his hero for shooting up the school. Yes, what he said was disgusting and wanton but was it criminal based on what we know? As far as we know, Hoeller didn’t call the school and make these comments to them directly. He said this to an attorney and investigator.

Emotional Reactions

These types of cases are difficult in times soon after a mass shooting. Emotions run high and “something must be done.” The police are stuck in the middle and criticized if they don’t react. If the police do something, in fear of public outcry, the judge may dismiss the charge later on due to lack of probable cause. No matter how crazy a person is, their right to freedom is just as important as a sane person’s.

Hoeller is using Cruz in an attempt to get his way. We don’t know if he was going to attack Carroll University but Hoeller is unethical at least. Perhaps he should grow up and move on instead of using 17 dead children who were brutally murdered by a fellow Maniac.

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